December 30, 2020

The Sage ‘Rumi’: From ‘Clerical Mainstream Scholar’ to ‘Committed Mystic’

From 8th century CE onwards, Muslim world witnessed some great scholars, philosophers, and Mystic poets who contributed a lot for Islamic mysticism (Tassawwuf). Maulana Rumi has secured a respectable place in it. He was born in what we call now Persia and lived most of life in such a place that was surrounded with religious clashes, political disputes and endless power struggles in Anatolia. He was born into an Islamic tradition in a noble family. He studied jurisprudence and was well educated scholar. He was just like other different clerical mainstream scholars around him until he met one day, in 1244 CE, to a stranger wandering dervish, namely Shams Tabrez. At first, this wandering Darvish looked strange to Rumi when he found stranger having no beard, no hair, and no eyebrows, who travelled widely throughout Middle East to seek someone who could endure his company. Maulana Rumi would have continued to live his life like other many clerical mainstream scholars around him, had he not encountered this fellow called Shams. Rumi’s whole attention was drawn to Shams after Darvesh was in speaking terms with Rumi and more importantly when Shams of Tabrez asked repeatedly many interesting questions to clerical mainstream scholar Rumi. Each and every question of Dervish made Rumi pale; despite being a scholar of time who was often surrounded by many intellectual students. Rumi found depth in the questions of wandering Darvish. Interesting questions of dervish were left unanswered by Rumi, despite he was considered as one of the greatest scholars of his time. This sudden encounter unlocked a door deep within Rumi’s soul when he found a kind of solace in books after an encounter with dervish. Rumi knew it very well that no book had taught him what this dervish had taught and this way this friendship became solid and this way Rumi was transformed from mainstream clerical scholar to a committed mystic.
Rumi was impressed by Shams, so he welcomed this dervish to enter in his life. An encounter of Shams taught Rumi to go beyond books to the heart of God through the heart of man. Shams had put the unsavoury questions to Rumi and it was only to make him realise that what stage of the path Rumi was at. Rumi found a state of ecstasy so does Shams after deep intellectual conversations. Their friendship is one of mysteries. Colman Barks writes that both Shams and Rumi have spent months together without human needs. Rumi and Shams stayed 40 days in a single room to know, to ponder, to understand what Love—the essence of life— basically is. After this, Rumi was seen to have turned into a poet, a mystical artist, who used to sing, whirl and ponder for hours. There have been very few people who have moved and transformed as many hearts as Maulana Rumi had. In the world of Sufis, Maulana Rumi is the emperor. As the human intellect advances towards excellence, then it is possible one can read Maulana Rumi in depth. His words have to be understood not as mere words but sources of deep silences, echoes of inner and innermost song.
(The author writes on topics related to Islamic Studies. Views are his own) [email protected]

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